June 30, 2019 9:18 am at 9:18 am #1749353
Last week’s major frum print media weekly editions included as an insert the Summer 5779-2019 issue of the Star-K’s “Kashrus Kurrents” with a cover article by the Rabbinic Administrator, HaGaon Rav Moshe Heinemann, entitled “Electric Shavers.” This article posits that even close cutting electric shavers are halachicly permissible, based on the opinions of Maran HaGaon Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l and Rav Heinemann’s own position.
Since this widely disseminated article omits mention of the overwhelming majority of poskim who consider all close cutting shaving machines as the halachic equivalent of a razor (and acknowledges that there are opinions which disagree with the position of the article by implication only), it would be a public service to publicize the Psak Din issued by Maran Rav Elyashiv zt’l and co-signed by the leading (non-Chassidic) Poskim and Roshei Yeshiva of our generation in 5768 regarding the status of electric shavers. [Parenthetically, it is of interest that there is a published letter from Rav Heinemann shlita in which he acknowledges that his own Rebbe, HaGaon Rav Aharon Kotler zt’l, prohibit all shaving machines, yet even this fact was omitted in this Kashrus Kurrents article. As to why all the Gedolim did not accept the opinion of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l concerning this issue, see: http://koshershaver.info/pdf/Authoritative%20Responses%20Web%20Edition%20with%20TOC%20Links%201-2-2019.pdf#page=47%5D.
Following is the text of the aforementioned Psak Din of the Gedolei Hador:
from the Leading Sages of our Generation
– REGARDING SHAVING THE BEARD –
בס”ד. יום ב’ לסדר “לא תשחית פאת זקנך” ניסן תשס”ח.
THE SEVERE BREACH OF HALACHAH INVOLVED IN THE USE OF SHAVING MACHINES is well known to all. Their use was prohibited by our Rabbis, the Gedolim of the [previous] generation, including the Chofetz Chaim and the Chazon Ish. Moreover, this [prohibition applied] even to the shavers of many years ago [when the shavers were far more primitive and did not cut hair as close to the skin as modern shavers]. Today, the shavers have been enhanced [and cut much closer to the skin] and thus the halachic issues involved are far more severe. This was also the halachic ruling of our great teacher, [the Steipler Gaon, R. Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky] the author of Kehilas Yaakov, zt’l, and of our great teacher, R. Elazar M. Shach, zt’l. They would cite the ruling of the Chazon Ish who equated all shaving machines with a razor. For the Torah does not say: “Do not shave with a razor,” but rather “Do not destroy the edges of your beard.” Any shaving that destroys the beard is forbidden [as a razor], as is evident from Makkos 21a and Rambam, Hilchos Avodas Kochavim, ch. 12.
THEREFORE, USING ANY SHAVER that leaves the face smooth, even if it was used to remove only two hairs, violates the prohibition of “Do not destroy the edges of your beard.”
IT IS THUS OBVIOUSLY THE RESPONSIBILITY OF ALL THE ROSHEI YESHIVOS [heads of the yeshivos] to confront this issue and not allow shavers that leave the face smooth to be brought in [to the yeshivos]. This prohibition applies both to the one who shaves and the one who is shaven.
IT IS A GREAT MITZVAH TO STUDY THE SEFER TIFERES ADAM, authored by the Chofetz Chaim, zt’l, which focuses on strengthening the observance of this prohibition and explains the reward received in both this world and the next for its practice.
R’ Yosef Sholom Elyashiv [Rav Yosef Sholom Elyashiv zt’l, Posek Hador, refused to sign this Psak Din in its original proposed wording, which indicated a “halachic concern.” He only agreed and signed it once the wording was changed to “a clear prohibition,” (“עד שיתוקן לאיסור ‘ודאי’ ולא בלשון ‘חששא'”) as is related in the authoritative collection of Rav Elyashiv’s halachic decisions Ashrei Ha’ish Y.D. p. 143]
R’ Aharon Yehuda Leib Steinman
R’ Shmuel Halevi Wosner [When our master the Chazon Ish zt’l discussed this matter with me, I showed him that our master the Chasam Sofer had already so stated [that scissors which cut very close are halachicly equivalent to a razor], and it was obvious to him that [shaving machines] are prohibited, as I have explained with G d’s help in a responsum].
R’ Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz
R’ Chaim Kanievsky
R’ Nissim Karelitz
R’ Shmuel Auerbach
R’ Noson Tzvi Finkel
Yerachmiel Ungarisher R’ Dovid Mann
Rosh Yeshivas Beis Medrash Elyon
Rosh Yeshivas Kneses Chizkiyahu
R’ Baruch Mordechai Ezrachi R’ Shmuel Markowitz
Rosh Yeshivas Ateres Yisroel Rosh Yeshivas Ponovez
R’ Avrohom Erlanger R’ Yehoshua Neubort
M’Roshei Yeshivas Kol Torah Rosh Yeshivas Chachmas Shlomo
R’ Menachem Tzvi Berlin R’ Yehuda Ades
Rosh Yeshivas Rabeinu Chaim Ozer Rosh Yeshivas Kol Yaakov
R’ Baruch Shmuel Deutsch R’ Baruch Dov Povarsky
M’Roshei Yeshivas Kol Torah Rosh Yeshivas Ponovez
R’ Tzvi Drevkin R’ Avinoam Postavsky
Rosh Yeshivas Grodno Be’er Yaakov Rosh Yeshivas Birkas Yitzchok
R’ Moshe Hillel Hirsch R’ Aviezer Philtz
Rosh Yeshivas Slabodka Rosh Yeshivas Tifrach
R’ Baruch Weisbecker R’ Aryeh Leib Finkel
Rosh Yeshivas Beis Matisyahu Rosh Yeshivas Mir Brachfeld
R’ Tzvi Weisfish R’ Betzalel Pinchasi
Rosh Yeshivas Even Yisroel Rosh Yeshivas Birkas Efraim
R’ Amram Zaks R’ Dov Freund
Rosh Yeshivas Slabodka Rosh Yeshivas Imrei Tzvi
R’ Dovid Cohen R’ Dov Tzvi Karlinstein
Rosh Yeshivas Chevron Rosh Yeshivas Grodno
R’ Gavriel Yosef Levy R’ Yigal Rosen
Rosh Yeshivas Be’er HaTorah Rosh Yeshivas Ohr Yisroel
R’ Yissocher Meyer R’ Tzvi Rotenberg
Rosh Yeshivas Hanegev Rosh Yeshivas Beis MeirJune 30, 2019 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm #1749508
Yasher Koach for pointing out that glaring omission.June 30, 2019 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm #1749491
Is there a source for the Psak Din?June 30, 2019 5:54 pm at 5:54 pm #1749632
Anecdotally, a friend of mine wrote a letter to Harav Hagaon R’ Chaim Kanievsky asking on what basis does he hold that shaving is prohibited, and he wrote back “see such and such place where my father says it is forbidden.”
If you were familiar with the sugya you would not need to ask why those who forbid it forbid it, and if you are not familiar with the sugya then of what use is it to show you sources?June 30, 2019 5:55 pm at 5:55 pm #1749689
WADR, creating confusion may not be that virtuous. Moshe shakul keneged kol yisrael. Especially with koach of heter.June 30, 2019 7:23 pm at 7:23 pm #1749701
In response to Just Another Yid who asked “Is there a source for the Psak Din, following are some sources:
See Shaalos u’Teshuvos Minchas Yitzchok (vol. 4, section 113) where the Minchas Yitzchok, one of the greatest Poskim of our times, wrote: “I searched the works of the great Acharonim in the hope of finding a halachic basis to defend the practice of allowing [the use of electric shavers], but not only did I not find a source to be lenient, on the contrary — I found that they all agree to be stringent [and prohibit shaving machines].”
Rav Elyashiv zt’l wrote in a teshuvah published in his sefer Kovetz Teshuvos (vol. 1, section 32) that the electric shavers of today are unquestionably infinitely Halachicly worse than those that existed in the time of the Chofetz Chaim and were prohibited by him, because modern machines shave much more closely to the skin, and shaving with them is an “issur Torah mamosh” — a definite and absolute Torah prohibition (and not just a “sofek issur d’oraysa”).
Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita wrote in the name of his father, the Steipler Gaon zt’l: “It has already been publicized that the Chofetz Chaim zt’l in Likkutei Halachos on Makkos prohibited even manual (non-electric) shaving machines; how much more so are today’s electric shavers forbidden since they are more advanced.”
Rav Shach zt’l wrote (Michtavim U’Maamarim 3:75): “To the questioner, may he be well: Concerning shaving the beard with electric shaving machines — see the sefer Likkutei Halachos on tractate Makkos (by the Chofetz Chaim), p. 14b (Ein Mishpat op. cit.), where he writes that it is prohibited, and one may not be lenient in this matter. It is also well-known that the Chazon Ish zt’l ruled that the use of all shaving machines is forbidden. This is my response, (signed) Elazar Menachem M. Shach.”
Similarly, the Debretziner Rov writes in Shaalos u’Teshuvos Be’er Moshe (vol. 7, Kuntres Electric 2:18) that today’s shaving machines are “one hundred percent more halachically severe than the machines referred to by the Chofetz Chaim.”
In the most recently published volume of responsa Shevet HaLevi (vol. 11, Y.D. section 198), Rav Shmuel Halevi Wosner zt’l wrote: “With regard to shaving machines…it was agreed by ALL the Geonim…that there is no difference between [using] them and [using] a razor… The Gaon R. Moshe Feinstein sought to make a distinction between today’s [shaving machines] and a razor and advanced a theory [in justification]…. That theory is not correct and has not been accepted ( אינה נכונה ולא נתקבלה aynah nechonah v’lo niskablah).”
Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky zt’l (who was certainly familiar with Rav Moshe Feinstein’s position regarding shaving with electric shavers), in his sefer Emes l’Yaakov on Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 181), Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky zt’l wrote (to his grandson) that there is no mesorah from the Rabbonim in America that can be relied upon to permit the use of electric shavers. To quote Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky zt’l: “Regarding [the prohibition of using] machines to shave [the beard], this is not just a chumra [halachic strictness] but a substantive [halachic] issue…. In fact, I do not know whether the great Torah authorities (Gedolim) of America [ever] explicitly permitted them; it is possible that they kept silent because no one asked them [their opinion], and they avoided the issue, knowing that their words would not be heeded…. It is difficult to rely upon [any] tradition (mesorah) [to be lenient].”
See Halichos Shlomo (tefilah, 2:7, note 24) where Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt’l ruled that one cannot rely on any heter granted by any Rov for any shaving machine of past generations, since those machines did not cut the facial hair as close to the skin and did not produce as clean of a shave as contemporary shavers do. See further in Halichos Shlomo (ibid.) where a letter from Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt’l to the author of the sefer Hadras Ponim Zokon is quoted, stating: “In my humble opinion, by publishing this sefer you are accomplishing something positive and beneficial. Perhaps through this sefer the issues will be elucidated and clarified, thereby saving the Jewish public from a severe transgression.”June 30, 2019 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm #1749732
in my world, the fact that the Rav ztl, RAL ztl, Rav Schechter, Rav Rosenzweig all used/use an electric shaver makes the issue closed. Those who wish the follow other poskim, in opposition to RMF ztl, certainly have the right to do so. however, to invalidate other gedolai yisroel is not acceptable.June 30, 2019 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm #1749448
To view the original Hebrew text of this Psak Din, see the collection of Rav Elyashiv’s letters entitled Kasvuni L’Doros (Jerusalem, 5773 page 314) and the following link:
sorry, no links
Following is a more clearly formatted list of the Roshei Yeshiva who joined the Gedolei HaDor (R’ Yosef Sholom Elyashiv, R’ Aharon Yehuda Leib Steinman, R’ Shmuel Halevi Wosner, R’ Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz, R’ Chaim Kanievsky, R’ Nissim Karelitz, R’ Shmuel Auerbach and R’ Noson Tzvi Finkel) in signing on to this Psak Din halachically equating all close cutting electric shavers with a razor:
Yerachmiel Ungarisher , Rosh Yeshivas Beis Medrash Elyon
R’ Dovid Mann, Rosh Yeshivas Kneses Chizkiyahu
R’ Baruch Mordechai Ezrachi, Rosh Yeshivas Ateres Yisroel
R’ Shmuel Markowitz, Rosh Yeshivas Ponovez
R’ Avrohom Erlanger, M’Roshei Yeshivas Kol Torah
R’ Yehoshua Neubort, Rosh Yeshivas Chachmas Shlomo
R’ Menachem Tzvi Berlin, Rosh Yeshivas Rabeinu Chaim Ozer
R’ Yehuda Ades, Rosh Yeshivas Kol Yaakov
R’ Baruch Shmuel Deutsch, M’Roshei Yeshivas Kol Torah
R’ Baruch Dov Povarsky, Rosh Yeshivas Ponovez
R’ Tzvi Drevkin, Rosh Yeshivas Grodno Be’er Yaakov
R’ Avinoam Postavsky, Rosh Yeshivas Birkas Yitzchok
R’ Moshe Hillel Hirsch, Rosh Yeshivas Slabodka
R’ Aviezer Philtz, Rosh Yeshivas Tifrach
R’ Baruch Weisbecker, Rosh Yeshivas Beis Matisyahu
R’ Aryeh Leib Finkel, Rosh Yeshivas Mir Brachfeld
R’ Tzvi Weisfish, Rosh Yeshivas Even Yisroel
R’ Betzalel Pinchasi, Rosh Yeshivas Birkas Efraim
R’ Amram Zaks, Rosh Yeshivas Slabodka
R’ Dov Freund, Rosh Yeshivas Imrei Tzvi
R’ Dovid Cohen, Rosh Yeshivas Chevron
R’ Dov Tzvi Karlinstein, Rosh Yeshivas Grodno
R’ Gavriel Yosef Levy, Rosh Yeshivas Be’er HaTorah
R’ Yigal Rosen, Rosh Yeshivas Ohr Yisroel
R’ Yissocher Meyer, Rosh Yeshivas Hanegev
R’ Tzvi Rotenberg, Rosh Yeshivas Beis MeirJune 30, 2019 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm #1749493
There are those who argue that only the Gedolim of Eretz Yisroel prohibit shaving machines, but not the Gedolim of America.
1) This assertion is disputed and refuted by what was written by a Gadol Hador in America, the contemporary of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l, namely, Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky zt’l (who was certainly familiar with Rav Moshe Feinstein’s position regarding shaving with electric shavers). In his sefer Emes l’Yaakov on Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 181), Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky zt’l wrote (to his grandson) that there is no mesorah from the Rabbonim in America that can be relied upon to permit the use of electric shavers. To quote Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky zt’l:
“Regarding [the prohibition of using] machines to shave [the beard], this is not just a chumra [halachic strictness] but a substantive [halachic] issue…. In fact, I do not know whether the great Torah authorities (Gedolim) of America [ever] explicitly permitted them; it is possible that they kept silent because no one asked them [their opinion], and they avoided the issue, knowing that their words would not be heeded…. It is difficult to rely upon [any] tradition (mesorah) [to be lenient].”
As is well known, Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l greatly respected the halachic decisions of Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky zt’l.
Furthermore, in a letter dated 6 Shevat 5774, Rav Yaakov’s recently deceased son, Rav Noson Kamenetzky, wrote to Rav Hillel Dovid Litwack of Flatbush (author of many sefarim): “I hereby attest that my father [Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky] never, ever permitted shaving machines.”
2) Furthermore, regarding the aforementioned American mesorah, the other Gadol in America (of similar stature to Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l and Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky zt’l) was Rav Aharon Kotler zt’l. According to the testimony of Rav Aharon Kotler’s zt’l major talmidim (such as Rav Moshe Heinemann, Rav Eliya Ber Wachtfogel, Rav Yechiel Perr, and others in letters published in the sefer Hadras Ponim Zokon Section 2, ch. 1), Rav Aharon Kotler ruled that electric shavers are absolutely prohibited. In fact, Rav Aharon Kotler zt’l told Rav Menachem Perr zt’l that he may not give electric shavers to his non-religious congregants to use instead of razors (see the sefer Hadras Ponim Zokon Section 2, ch. 1. This is also related in a letter written by his son, Rav Yechiel Perr shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Derech Ayson in Far Rockaway, printed in the miluyim to the sefer Hadras Ponim Zokon).
Additionally, Rav Aharon Kotler’s zt’l grandson, Rav Malkiel Kotler shlita, along with the other Roshei Yeshiva of Lakewood, wrote a public letter (which was posted on the Beth Medrash Gavoha bulletin board) attesting that Rav Aharon Kotler zt’l considered electric shavers to be prohibited.
[For additional documentation regarding Rav Aharon Kotler’s zt’l position regarding shaving, see other examples where Rav Aharon Kotler zt’l disputed Halachic positions of the Igros Moshe in footnote # 1 in the following link: sorry, no links
3) The “first American Gadol,” Rav Gedaliah Schorr zt’l, Rosh Yeshiva of Torah Vodaas [this expression calling Rav Schorr the “first American Gadol” was coined by Rav Aharon Kotler zt’l], prohibited shaving machines (although he was certainly aware of the Igros Moshe’s opinion regarding this issue).
In his haskamah to the sefer Hadras Ponim Zokon, Rav Gedaliah Schorr called the sefer a “chibur nifla” and “sefer yakar.” He continued to write that the Gedolim of both previous generations and our generation were concerned that the use of shaving machines involves a Torah prohibition, and that all b’nei Torah should learn the sefer so they will avoid a severe Torah prohibition.
4) Another American Gadol, Rav Yitzchok Hutner zt’l (Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Chaim Berlin), attested that Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski zt’l (Rov of Vilna, author of Achiezer and Posek Hador of his generation) considered the shaving machines of his time to constitute a “sofek issur d’oraysa” [when there is a doubt about a fact where a Torah prohibition applies, halacha requires that the strict position regarding the rule be taken] (quoted in Sefer Hadras Ponim Zokon, miluyim to Section 2 ch. 1, p. 715; see there for corroborating testimony from Rav Chaim Ozer’s personal barber), as discussed above in chapter 3 of this work.
Similarly, Rav Avrohom Asher Zimmerman zt’l (who served as a Rov in Borough Park and was a prominent Posek in the Yeshiva world) testified in a letter (published in Hadras Ponim Zokon, third ed., miluyim to Section 2 ch. 1, p. 717) that when he was in Vilna in 1935-1936, he showed a Schick Shaver to Rav Chaim Ozer on behalf of Yeshiva Torah Vodaas, and Rav Chaim Ozer would not permit it.
Regarding rumors that Rav Chaim Ozer zt’l permitted the use of shavers, see Halichos Shlomo (tefilah, 2:7, note 24) where Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt’l ruled that one cannot rely on that rumor, as well as on any heter granted by any Rov for any shaving machine of past generations, since those machines did not cut the facial hair as close to the skin and did not produce as clean of a shave as contemporary shavers do (as already discussed above, chapter 4).
See further in Halichos Shlomo (ibid.) where a letter from Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt’l to the author of the sefer Hadras Ponim Zokon is quoted, stating: “In my humble opinion, by publishing this sefer you are accomplishing something positive and beneficial. Perhaps through this sefer the issues will be elucidated and clarified, thereby saving the Jewish public from a severe transgression.”
5) See the sefer Edus l’Yisroel p. 145, where Rav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin zt’l (referred to by Rav Elyashiv zt’l as the “Mara d’Asra of America” — see Yeshurun vol. 20, pp. 153f) wrote that although many people rely on halachic leniencies (heterim) to shave, there are great Rishonim and Acharonim who vehemently disagreed and prohibited removing the beard (even) with scissors or depilatory cream (sam). “
Rav Henkin then adds that even if a leniency can be found for removing the beard on halachic grounds, to do so violates the Will of Hashem, who ordained the mitzvah of growing the beard to distinguish Jews from non-Jews. Using any means to shave the beard gives one the appearance of a non-Jew and defeats the Torah’s reason for this mitzvah. Although the reasons for mitzvos are not halachically obligating, Rav Henkin continues, it is not the ratzon hatorah (the will of Hashem in His Torah) to contravene the Divine reason for mitzvos. “) אין זה רצון התורה אם הוא עובר על הטעם(”
Hence, Rav Henkin states, any leniencies regarding shaving are meant only for extraordinarily harsh circumstances (shaas hadchack) and are not for everyone to rely upon under normal circumstances. ” והדין שהוא בניגוד להטעם ” הוא רק פתח הצלה בשעת הדחק [This is especially so nowadays, when it is illegal to discriminate in the workplace against a Jew who grows a beard.]
Rav Henkin concludes that for b’nei Torah, and especially for Rabbonim, any heterim to shave with a scissors-like device or to remove the beard with a depilitory cream are certainly not adequate. “) לבני התורה ובפרט לרבנים אין היתר זה מספיק(”
Rav Henkin goes on to provide additional halachic reasons why the beard should not be removed with shaving machines or depilatory cream: Additionally, the peyos and beard serve as a shield to protect us from associating with evil company, because “the cursed does not cleave to the blessed” — namely, to someone with the appearance of a Jew. Chazal have already stated, “Create a fence to safeguard the Torah.” Furthermore, many unlawful people shave with razors and say they used powder. Many simple people don’t understand the difference between them, and once permission has been granted to shave with powder, they do not differentiate [and shave with razors].June 30, 2019 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm #1749734
What I’m not getting is that with all the Piskei Din in the world, the fact is that most Yeshivos (including Chofetz Chaim and many others) are Matir shaving… they can’t all be wrong.
(Also, Rav Ovadia, Rav Moshe, Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank, and Rav Chaim Ozer all appear to be Meikel regarding electric shavers. )June 30, 2019 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm #1749738
Additionally, 5ish, there are so many people that take a Gadol’s name and do what they want with it. Maybe this is one of them.
P.S. showing me the sources is how I become familiar with the Sugya. what you said is an oxymoron…July 1, 2019 1:13 am at 1:13 am #1749779
Do you know better than Rav Heinemann?July 1, 2019 7:31 am at 7:31 am #1749783
.פוק חזי מאי עמא דברJuly 1, 2019 10:31 am at 10:31 am #1749899
Be careful do not press on the skin.July 1, 2019 10:46 am at 10:46 am #1749900
Well then, with all the Rov Rabbonim keneged , and making sfekot etc., and the Psak of the CC , how do you explain that the Torah world in Europe and Eretz Yisrael ignored the problem. Take a look at any picture from that Tekufah.July 1, 2019 10:46 am at 10:46 am #1749918
I heard that lift and cut is a problem.July 1, 2019 10:47 am at 10:47 am #1749948
In response to the concerns articulated by Benephraim and DrYidd as to why all the Gedolim did not accept the opinion of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l concerning this issue, see the most recently published volume of responsa Shevet HaLevi (vol. 11, Y.D. section 198), by Rav Shmuel Halevi Wosner zt’l (referred to by many as the Posek Hador) where he testified that “With regard to shaving machines…it was agreed by all the Geonim…that there is no difference between [using] them and [using] a razor… The Gaon R. Moshe Feinstein sought to make a distinction between today’s [shaving machines] and a razor and advanced a theory [in justification]…. That theory is not correct and has not been accepted (אינה נכונה ולא נתקבלה aynah nechonah v’lo niskablah).” [It is important to add that Rav Wosner personally discussed the halachah of shaving machines with Rav Moshe Feinstein during a face-to-face meeting between these two Gedolim which took place in 1978, during a visit by Rav Wosner to New York (on behalf of Vaad Mishmeres Stam). For further reflections by Rav Wosner regarding this visit with Rav Moshe Feinstein and their exchange regarding shaving machines, see Rav Wosner’s revealing letter dated 9 Nissan, 5738, published in Hadras Ponim Zokon (third ed., miluyim to Section 2 ch. 1, p. 729).]
Similar sentiments were expressed by as great and as universally accept a Posek as Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt’l. In the 5778 issue of Agudas Yisroel of America’s Am HaTorah journal (5:9), Rav Pesach Eliyahu Falk (Rov in Gateshead and author of responsa Machzeh Eliyahu and many other halachic works) testified that he personally heard from Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt’l how he rejected the reported reasoning of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l to be lenient regarding electric shavers.
Indeed, many Poskim wrote clearly that one may not rely on the Igros Moshe regarding shaving machines. The Poskim include the Steipler Gaon in Orchos Rabbeinu vol. 1, Hosafos Chadashos p. 38.; Rav Elyashiv; the Debretziner Rov, author of Shaalos u’Teshuvos Be’er Moshe, in his letter published in Hadras Ponim Zokon p. 22 (where he writes that he does not believe Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l ever issued such a heter); and Rav Moshe Sternbuch (in Teshuvos v’Hanhagos, vol. 5, section 264) and others.
For additional reasons why the Igros Moshe’s position regarding shaving machines was not accepted by the Gedolei HaDor (including a responsa with the Haskama of Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita), see the recently published work Authoritative Responses to Common Misconceptions, chapter 12 (which is available through Amazon and can be viewed at no cost in the publications section of the koshershaver.info website).July 1, 2019 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm #1749962
What is the point of this discussion?
Rav Moshe Feinstein zts”l allowed electric shavers. His psak has been followed by Litvishe Yeshiva bochurim for generations.
The sefer hadras ponim zokon is missing the one and only haskomo that he really needed – Rav Moshe Feinstein’s zts”l.July 1, 2019 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm #1749990
I own a lot of Jewish Biographies, most of the pics of bachurim in pre-war Europe are clean shaven. How is this seen in light of your sources?July 1, 2019 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm #1750000
I don’t get it. Virtually all of the photos European bachurim from the 20’s and 30’s from the yeshivas of the Gedolim noted in previous posts show that most were clean shaven. Given that so many of the aforementioned Gedolim were on record as opposing shaving, even with samm, how does one account for the photographic evidence that shaving was customary and wide spread?July 1, 2019 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm #1750008
There is no new information here. It is known that many other gedolim disagreed with the Igros Moshe.
That other gedolim disagreed does not minimize his psak one bit.
His psak is chay vkayam and can be relied upon by every Yid.
The only one that can change the Igros Moshe’s psak is the Bal Igros Moshe himself.
I am concerned because I see some people trying to minimize the Kavod and Gadlus of Rav Moshe Feinstein ztsal because they have an agenda to disallow shavers.July 1, 2019 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm #1750010
This article posits that even close cutting electric shavers
The article says no such thing. It goes into depth about different types of electric shavers and what the potential issues are. It very clearly states that there is a problem with most shavers, since they are sharp enough to cut the hair to a point where it drops below the skin.
Honestly, on issues of technology there are some Rabbonim I will trust over even gedolei hador. Rav Heineman is one such rav. He does not paskin unless he delves into the technology himself, experiments with it, and speaks with experts in the field. With all do respect to Rav Chaim Kanievsky SHLITA, I simply cannot fathom that he personally built a rig to see if a lift-and-cut shaver actually does what it says it does.
As for electric shavers in general, it’s a machlokes. But the majority of non-Chassidish American Rabbonim (and a significant percentage of Israeli rabbonim) hold that it’s fine and no different than scissors.July 1, 2019 2:33 pm at 2:33 pm #1750056
I also need to echo the concerns of others
It is nice for you to throw around the term “Posek Hador” yet I do not find you using that term by Rav Moshe.
It seems to me that you are trying to minimize Rav Moshe in general when he was Universally recognized as the Posek HadorJuly 1, 2019 2:33 pm at 2:33 pm #1750052
I do not know if pre-war pictures are a proof as I do not know how they shaved (maybe someone else can enlighten us). My grandfather used a chemical paste and not a shaver, but I do not know if this was common.July 1, 2019 5:37 pm at 5:37 pm #1750199
I am concerned because I see some people trying to minimize the Kavod and Gadlus of Rav Moshe Feinstein ztsal because they have an agenda to disallow shavers.
I agree. The author of הדרת פנים זקן had the audacity to write that his psak is not one which can legitimately be followed. He should go to R’ Moshe zt”l’s kever and beg mechilah.July 1, 2019 7:49 pm at 7:49 pm #1750233
To Avi K
I agree and rely on this heter every day.July 1, 2019 7:52 pm at 7:52 pm #1750217
CONCLUSIVELY: Even though there are numerous Gedolim hat say shaving is Assur, having a Kashah on people that shave is like having a Kashah on Ashkenaz and Sefard. it is a matter of Mesorah, and If your Rav says you can shave, It does not matter what the Gedolim say…
FOLLOW YOUR RAV! DO NOT CHANGE YOUR MINHAG OR HAVE A TA’ANAH ON YOUR RAV IF HE SAYS YOU CAN SHAVE!July 1, 2019 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm #1750254
I am grateful to the Star-K for publishing a helpful article from a renown Posek. The mesorah from my grandfathers and Rabbeim is to shave every day with an electric shaver, altz making a Kiddush Hashem as a ben Torah both at work and in the community. This includes during Sefira and the Three Weeks. BH that I have sich a rich tradition to inform my hanhagos hachaim.July 1, 2019 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm #1750257
You guys are taking it too far. Yes, R’ Moshe held it was muttar. He didn’t hold it was a mitzvah. There’s no kiddush Hashem to shave.July 1, 2019 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm #1750278
I’m wondering whether those that follow Rav Moshe ZT’L on an issue he’s a Daas Yochid when he’s mattir, such as permitting shaving, also follow Rav Moshe when he’s a Daas Yochid and he assurs, such as prohibiting having an air conditioner turn on during Shabbos with a timer.
Surely those that shave will never permit an air conditioner to be set to go on or off during Shabbos.July 1, 2019 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm #1750276
This is a very interesting thread. I hope nobody takes this too seriously and consults with their halachik authority.July 2, 2019 6:50 am at 6:50 am #1750282
To expand on the point raised by Joseph:
Those who adopt the leniencies of the Igros Moshe often do so without halachic sanction.
Rav Yisroel Salanter zt’l wrote (in the introduction to the sefer Ohr HaYom) that one cannot accept the leniencies of even the greatest Gadol b’Yisroel UNLESS one also accepts his stringencies (he wrote this even regarding a Gadol of the stature of the Vilna Gaon zt’l, who certainly was considered Gadol Hador and Posek Hador).
The Igros Moshe himself advanced a similar concept in O.C. 2:60, where he posits that one may conduct oneself according to the Vilna Gaon in cases where he is a minority opinion ONLY if one adheres to all of the Vilna Gaon’s halachic rulings, both stringent and lenient.
DO ALL THOSE WHO SHAVE THEIR BEARDS, RELYING ON RAV MOSHE FEINSTEIN ZT’L’S REPORTED HETER [which Rav Moshe Feinstein never recorded in any of his sefarim] (where he is clearly a minority opinion disputed by the great Poskim of the previous and current generations), ALSO FOLLOW ALL OF RAV MOSHE FEINSTEIN ZT’L’S NUMEROUS CHUMROS (STRINGENCIES)?
Using a Shabbos clock (the Igros Moshe [O.C. 4:60] rules that one may not set a timer before Shabbos in order to cause a melachah to be performed on Shabbos).
Listening to music (the Igros Moshe [O.C. 1:166; Y.D. 1:173; Y.D. 2:111 and 142] concludes that all instrumental music is forbidden, and that a ba’al nefesh should avoid listening to any form of singing).
Carrying on Shabbos in communities in large metropolitan areas where eiruvin have been established (the Igros Moshe disputes the validity of eiruvin in neighborhoods such as Williamsburg [O.C. 1:138 and 140; Y.D. 3:161], Manhattan [O.C. 1:139; O.C. 4:89; Y.D. 3:161], Flatbush [O.C. 4:87-88; O.C. 5:28-29; Y.D. 3:161], Borough Park [O.C. 5:28-29 and 89; Y.D. 3:161] and Detroit [O.C. 5:29]).
Wearing a tallis katan made out of a material other than wool (the Igros Moshe [O.C. 1:2; 2:1; 3:1; 3:52] advocates wearing a woolen tallis katan, and states that he himself did so even in the heat of summer. According to Igros Moshe, O.C. 2:1, wearing a talis koton made of synthetic fabric would present the following problems: 1) non-fulfillment of the mitzvah, 2) uttering a blessing in vain, 3) carrying on Shabbos).
Eating veal (the Igros Moshe [EH 4:92:2] rules that a ba’al nefesh should refrain from consuming veal).
Shaking hands with a woman (Igros Moshe O.C. I:113 and EH 4:32:9 state that shaking hands with a woman “is clearly forbidden;” “is certainly clearly forbidden.” See also EH 1:56 where the conclusion is that practically speaking it is difficult to rely on any leniency).
Attending sports stadiums and theaters (Igros Moshe Y.D. 4:11:1 rules that going to sports stadiums and theaters is forbidden due to the prohibitions of Moshav Leitzim, Bitul Torah and promiscuity [but not due to Chukos Goyim]).
(There are additional examples as well.)July 2, 2019 6:53 am at 6:53 am #1750286
To respond to the point raised by DaasYochid:
Perhaps it is those who publicize the heter of the Igros Moshe (and not those who are concerned that the opposing opinions are omitted) are the ones who are disrespecting him.
See Meged Givos Olam (vol. 1, p. 96) where Rav Shurkin writes that he heard that the reason why Rav Moshe zt’l did not want to write this teshuvah permitting shaving machines in Igros Moshe is because while (according to the Igros Moshe) it is technically permitted to shave, the tzurah of a Yid is with a beard. Rav Belsky zt’l stated the same.
If Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l did not publish his opinion regarding this matter for this reason (because the proper appearance of a Jew is with a beard, and publication of such a heter would encourage people to shave), then why do people who respect Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l publicize what Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l deliberately did not want publicized?
Moreover, if Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l is of the opinion that “the tzurah of a Yid is with a beard” (to the extent that he would not write a teshuvah stating that shaving is technically permitted, out of concern that it would embolden people to remove their beards), why don’t these forums (which purport to represent Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l’s position) advocate that listeners grow their beards, in accordance with Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l’s viewpoint?
This attestation why Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l did not publish his heter regarding shaving machines is also recorded in the popular publication Daf Yomi Digest, a daily resource for thousands of Daf Yomi learners worldwide, compiled by the Ruben Shas Kollel and published by Chicago Center for Torah & Chesed, under the leadership of HaRav Yehoshua Eichenstein shlita and HaRav Pinchas Eichenstein shlita, Rosh Kollel.
In their issue on Nazir daf 40, the following is documented as clarification of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l’s position:
“It is well known that Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, did permit the use of certain electric shavers. Someone once approached him and asked why he didn’t write a teshuvah outlining the parameters of which shavers are permitted and which are not. ‘After all, your teshuvos cover every subject under the sun!’ Rav Moshe explained, ‘Although I permit this practice halachically, I don’t want to write a teshuvah formally permitting this since the proper way is for a Jew to have a beard. Although this is not halachically prohibited, a Jew ought to grow a beard!’”July 2, 2019 6:54 am at 6:54 am #1750290
For Ploni Doe, samm which I mentioned is the depilatory powder used for shaving that your grandfather used. It was widely used, mostly in Lite and in U.S. Yeshivas back in the fifties when I was in yeshiva. You mixed with water into a green paste and smeared in on your face, let it set for a few minutes and then scraped it and the hair off with a wooden or rubber spatula. It smelled awful but it worked.July 2, 2019 7:00 am at 7:00 am #1750335
To those who are opposing shaving: just out of curiosity, what do you think about trimming one’s beard?July 2, 2019 7:05 am at 7:05 am #1750289
There is an institute in israel that has a list of all shavers they consider mutar this is based on extensive research they have carried out
Zomet.org.ilJuly 2, 2019 7:28 am at 7:28 am #1750350
“Surely those that shave will never permit an air conditioner to be set to go on or off during Shabbos.”
Mah inyan shmita eitzel har Sinai?
Is there some sort of heikish between shaving and timers?July 2, 2019 8:06 am at 8:06 am #1750298
I have seen Rabbai’s come and go to yeshivos and yeshiva communities and giving Mussar about all sorts of things including Yom hatzmaus cakes, about how college is bad, and how having a choice of cereals in the am is too much gashmius but I never heard them complaining about our clean shaven facesJuly 2, 2019 8:10 am at 8:10 am #1750365
Those who adopt the leniencies of the Igros Moshe often do so without halachic sanction.
That’s the disgusting comment I was referring to. Shameful.July 2, 2019 8:15 am at 8:15 am #1750367
Perhaps it is those who publicize the heter of the Igros Moshe (and not those who are concerned that the opposing opinions are omitted) are the ones who are disrespecting him.
No, look in the mirror, buddy. You’re the one disrespecting him. His heter was well known and he never made it a secret. Saying it’s not valid enough to rely on is disrespectful.July 2, 2019 8:49 am at 8:49 am #1750369
Mah inyan shmita eitzel har Sinai?
Is there some sort of heikish between shaving and timers?
Wolfson/Miriamson/Wiener and Joseph are living in an alternative universe where everyone only follows the psakim of one posek.
Of course, in reality, it’s not nearly that simple. For various reasons, certain psakim become widely accepted, and some don’t.July 2, 2019 9:17 am at 9:17 am #1750375
To those who say that Rav Moshe, ZT”L, was a Da’as Yachid – I can personally say that I spoke with Rav Yisrael Belsky ZT”L about shavers, and he said that as long as it was not a lift-and-cut, it was fine.
And yes, I do generally follow Rav Belsky’s Chumros as well as his Kulos.
an Israeli YidJuly 2, 2019 9:18 am at 9:18 am #1750377
“See Meged Givos Olam (vol. 1, p. 96) where Rav Shurkin writes that ”
did you also see the story where R’ shurkin writes that someone left a book assuring shaving on R’ Moshe’s shtender. R’ Moshe picked it up looked at one page, shook his head in disagreement, looked at another page, did the same, finally looked at a third page and tossed it off to the side .
Or did you skip that story since it doesn’t fit your krum narrative?July 2, 2019 9:21 am at 9:21 am #1750392
Was that this guy’s book?July 2, 2019 10:28 am at 10:28 am #1750417
Technically an electric shaver is more like scissors than a razor. They cut rather than scrape.
The real issue is destroying the beard. That men should have a beard. the fuller the better.July 2, 2019 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm #1750497
If his shaving is very smooth, he is also ovar on lo silbash.July 2, 2019 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm #1750499
We discussed this already in another OP already that the Chasam Sofer 159 says that growing a beard is not required.July 2, 2019 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm #1750509
Its likely this article was not aimed at the Charedi community. The people who read this magzine are probably from more modern communitesJuly 2, 2019 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm #1750517
“Was that this guy’s book?”
It didint say (In the Meged, he often leaves out specific details) but when I heard the story from R’ Shurkin, he implied quite strongly that it was Hadras Panim Zaken.
(I don’t have it in front of me so this is from memory)July 2, 2019 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm #1750525
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